more thoughts on compact view

Some more thoughts on the removal of compact view from Nautilus in 3.6:

1. After the public discussion about this on this mailing list a couple of weeks back, I contacted a few people from the design and Nautilus teams (Allan, Cosimo, Jon) to continue the discussion in private.  We had a reasonable discussion, but it didn't lead to a significant change in anyone's position.  I think the crux of our disagreement is whether it's reasonable to use list view for viewing a directory with, say, 100 files.  I strongly prefer to see such directories with all the filenames on the screen, and feel that multiple columns works fine for that.  Allan disagrees:

> I honestly honestly think that scrolling vertically through a single 
> column of items makes much more sense that horizontal scrolling 
> through multiple columns.
> ...
> Fitting that number of files on scree n at the same time is a false goal
> in my opinion. It actually makes the display more difficult to parse.

2. As an experiment, I've turned off compact view on all my machines for the last couple of weeks; I've been using the list view by default instead.  I've done this since I want to see whether I can get used to list view as a replacement for compact view.  Unfortunately so far I still miss the compact view every day.  Most directories I visit have more than one screenful of files (in the list view) and I'm finding the extra scrolling to be a significant burden.  I'll continue the experiment to see whether I can get used to list view (and, clearly, if 3.6 ships in its current form then before long this "experiment" will continue whether I want it to or not.)

3. If compact view is really going away, then I'd strongly suggest that Nautilus be augmented with a libpeas-based plugin system so that plugins can implement extra views.  I think we can't expect everyone to agree about the set of views they might want - after all, the split pane view is also going away but has its own ardent fans (see  It would be great if the split pane view could also be a plugin.  If these views were plugins, then any distro could decide which views it wanted to provide and enable by default.  If they are not plugins, then nobody can use them at all.  (And of course other core GNOME apps (gedit, Totem, GNOME Shell) have similar plugin systems, all of which I've found useful.)

I asked Cosimo in a private message whether he'd be open to adding such plugins to Nautilus.  He replied:

>Not sure...Nautilus even used to have a similar concept of plugga ble
>views way back AFAIK, but it was removed a long time ago.
>Let's say that at least I would need to see a good patch, and someone
>with time to maintain the feature :)

So he seems a bit lukewarm but maybe not completely opposed.


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